Tue, 07 Apr 2009 04:41:00 +0000
SOUTH AFRICA'S industry players have pledged their commitment to pump investment into Zimbabwe in an effort to stimulate the country's economy.
A high-powered delegation of executives led by billionaire entrepreneur Patrice Motsepe met with the country's leadership including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Finance Minister Tendai Biti.
Motsepe says the meeting was to obtain guarantees for business about the stability and consistency of the new inclusive Government's policies. President Mugabe described the delegation's arrival as yet another sign of South Africa's confidence in the inclusive Government comprising former rival factions -Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formations.He said the meetings with SA business team was an "enchanting boost" to the inclusive Government and to the Zimbabwean economy."The visit makes the confidence South Africa has with us concrete. From the political side, we have the inclusive Government, and they (South Africans) are the ones who did most of the work.
"We had the confidence deriving from the leadership from South Africa, now we have the confidence from the economic side," he said.Motsepe said that he "personally (had) no doubt that in the next few months or next few years, the private sector not only in South Africa but worldwide will realise that Zimbabwe is a good place for business."The meeting comes a few days before the signing of the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement between the two countries on April 14 in Polokwane, South Africa.
Zimbabwe has also been given a special slot at the World Economic Forum scheduled for Cape Town, South Africa, next month, where the country is expected to market itself as an investment centre.Drumming up support for ZimbabweThe South African government is encouraging local businesses to invest in Zimbabwe as one of the various instruments South Africa is using to assist the newly formed inclusive Government.That country's Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said last week that one of the ways the SA government would assist Zimbabwe was in encouraging private SA investors to invest in Zimbabwe.
Addressing accountants in Durban last, Nene said the response from the business community had been very positive.
"We have had a number of meetings with a number of organised business. There is a lot of appetite for that," Nene said.
It was pleasing that so many businesses struggling in the neighbouring state had remained in the country and retailers were filling up their shelves again, he said.
Nene said the state was lobbying South African banks to lend to bankable projects in Zimbabwe. It was also urging the International Monetary Fund to write off debts owed by the country.
"It will be a win-win situation for everyone when the new government succeeds. We are accused of having fathered peace in Zimbabwe, and it is for a very good reason. When there is no peace in your neighbour's house, you will have sleepless nights," Nene explained.Neren Rau, the chief executive of the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the organisation had not been approached by the government. However, it had started its own initiative, urging business to expand to Zimbabwe.
Rau added that the chamber was looking at small-scale mining for now. Generally, business people were reluctant, but the chamber was selling the idea as an option for growing the firms during the financial crisis.
Media reports have said Zimbabwe needs U$1 billion (R9.6 billion) in the short term for urgent humanitarian needs. It also requires $3.3 billion in the next six years to boost electricity generation capacity.
The R300 million South Africa is assisting Zimbabwe with will come from the African Union Renaissance Fund, to be given in three installments by June.TZG/SABC/BR